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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

History and Faith - What is an Advent Jesse Tree?

The time has arrived - The most wonderful time of the year, as it has been described in song. It's also referred to as advent season - What is advent? It's the days before Christmas when the coming of Christ's birth is celebrated. Most Christians, even non-Christians, have heard of an Advent Calendar where you open up a window each day and receive a small treat of chocolate candy or otherwise. One window is opened each day until Christmas Eve. There are many versions of these calendars.

One twist on the Advent Calendar that brings the Old Testament prophecies to New Testament meaning is called the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is based on the Old Testament prophecy that the Messiah will come - "A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." Each day a short devotional is read connecting a Biblical prophecy and passage from the Old Testament with the coming of Christ, His birth and Christmas.

By using the Jesse Tree during Advent time, it is a great way to bring Biblical history to life in your daily lesson planning. This type of lesson can be logged for homeschoolers as history or religious studies, or both. You can even incorporate art and have the children design their own ornaments. Be creative with your ornaments. You can just color some downloadable pictures or purchase pre-made ornaments or use your creativity in being as elaborate as you like with your ornament design.

There are several ways to go about using the Jesse tree. One of my favorites is a book entitled The Advent Jesse Tree where you actually place a different ornament on a Christmas tree each day as you read the devotional lesson that corresponds. It's a small hard cover green book that fits easily into your hands. Another book that follows purely Advent and not so much of the Jesse Tree symbols but still connects Advent with prophesy is Countdown to Christmas: Devotions for Families by Laura K. E. Zimmerman.